Amy Winehouse And Me
I have to confess that, until last week, I knew very little about Amy Winehouse. Our music producers in Aberdeen once told me they had seen her play live in that city but this was years ago and "before the beehive hair and tatoos". They described her as a "lovely girl".
Then, just recently, I was asked by Tom Bateman, a duty editor on BBC Radio One's Newsbeat programe, to take part in a session he was organising at the Radio Festival. It was called "Winehouse or White House" and would focus on the growth of showbiz news in the media. Tom told me he was having difficulty finding anyone to take the "anti-showbiz" line so I agreed to step in.
Naturally I started researching the topic and that included trawling through the various press reports about Amy Winehouse. That story from my Aberdeen colleagues was my starting point, but as I Googled my way through this young singer's career highs and lows I was actually moved to tears by what I was reading. That's not saying much, mind you, because I tend to well up watching old black & white movies.
What struck me most of all was the amount of time we in the media devote to covering stories about self-destructing celebrities. It's almost like they are characters in a soap opera instead of real people. Yet Amy Winehouse is just 24 years old and a few years ago was a "lovely girl".
I said all this and more at the Radio Festival this morning. I appealed to my fellow journalists and broadcasters to devote more airtime to stories that are important.
Yet, here's the irony. Tonight I find myself part of yet another story about Amy Winehouse.